Comps lackluster in March’s fourth week

Redbook ChartNew York – With Easter scheduled three weeks later than last year, retailers struggled in the fourth week of March. Comps rose 2.3% last week following a 3.1% gain the prior week, according to the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index.

Month-to-date, March was up 2.7% compared to March of last year, relative to a target of a 2.9% gain. Month-over-month showed a 0.5% drop, relative to a target of a 0.3% drop.

March is a five-week month on the retail calendar ending April 5th.

“Retailers were up against last year's pre-Easter shopping week, making for the toughest comparisons of the month,” noted Catlin Levis, Redbook analyst. “The difference should be made up in April when this year's Easter sales get under way and boost growth rates relative to last year's retail April. Most retailers suggest smoothing the Easter distortion by simply averaging March and April performance.”

Winning categories at discount stores included seasonal hard lines such as garden and lawn equipment, consumables and other basic items.

Considering the persisting wintry weather conditions, Levis added retailers “prefer a late Easter holiday since temperatures are more likely to be higher, making for a smooth transition into the core of the spring season.”

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